Column: PLC now at work in District 518WORTHINGTON — All teachers in District 518 are members of a Professional Learning Community (PLC). A PLC is a group of teachers coming together regularly to talk about how to better help students learn.
By: Katie Clarke, DIstrict 518, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — All teachers in District 518 are members of a Professional Learning Community (PLC). A PLC is a group of teachers coming together regularly to talk about how to better help students learn. PLCs really focus on transforming school culture from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning. This shift is sparked by four guiding questions:
* What do we want students to know and learn?
* How will we know that they have learned it?
* What do we do if students don’t learn it?
* What do we do if students have already mastered it?
Teachers address these questions during their meetings by reviewing their curriculum and state standards, looking at student data, analyzing student work, developing assessments, and creating interventions and enrichments. The ultimate goal of PLCs is to increase student learning and narrow the achievement gap.
Most teachers are teamed together by content area or grade level. For those teachers who may be the only person in the district teaching a certain course — for example, Middle School Technology Education — there is an option to collaborate with teachers from other districts that are part of the Flexible Learning Year (FLY). Being a participant in a cross-district PLC is possible because all of the FLY schools have PLCs. There are nine District 518 teachers who participate in cross-district PLCs.
Planning for PLCs began a year and a half ago with the approval of the FLY consortium. At that time, a District PLC Leadership Team was formed and made up of both teachers and administrators. The PLC Leadership Team has attended four trainings to learn about PLCs and how to implement them in a district. The team then was responsible for teaching the rest of the staff.
PLCs throughout the district meet at various times. Prairie Elementary and the middle school staff have had common collaboration time in the past, so they meet during that time. However, the conversations have shifted to focus on the four guiding questions above. Worthington High School has not had common time for teachers within departments in the past, so a new schedule was adopted this year. The high school now starts at 8:30 a.m. (instead of the usual 8 a.m.) on Wednesday mornings. This provides time for staff to meet from 7:30 to 8:20 a.m. in PLCs.
Thus far, many teachers have embraced this new way of thinking and working. PLCs provide a platform to display the district’s mission of Excellence in Action on a regular basis.
Katie Clarke is the coordinator of curriculum and instruction for District 518.